Generosity as a Practice

From the book, The Generosity Path: Finding the Richness in Giving:

“Practice is a time when we apply ourselves to something, as in piano practice or meditation practice. It is more about a willingness to show up regularly and do our best, and less about our ability to perform perfectly on command. It also implies taking part in a variety of activities. For instance, in meditation, we might try visualization, using a mantra, or just sit quietly while paying attention to our breathing. For me, the word practice takes the pressure off; I am not expected it to get it exactly right every time. Yet it also calls me to be dedicated, choose to do it regularly, exercise some discipline, and look for ways to improve.

My friend Sharon

My friend Sharon

Part of my own daily practice of generosity came from a dear friend, Sharon Groves. Some years ago, she and I had developed an eight-session seminar on financial generosity and were teaching it together. I was on a phone call with her one day, frustrated with a mutual colleague who was not acting on something I needed her to do. Sharon asked me simply, “What is the most generous response you can have to this situation?” She asked it with care and general concern, not to shame or embarrass me, so I took the question seriously. It woke me up like an alarm, helping me to respond as my best self, in a more caring and productive way, in that situation and countless other since. Now, whenever I am faced with a choice, a confrontation, or a need, I ask myself:

What is the most generous response I can make?

Whenever I am angry or puzzled or frustrated, this question helps me to get back to a generous attitude.” How do you return to your best self when you are upset?

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